Monday, January 12, 2015

Analysis of State Google Searches

I am the hugest sucker for maps, the Internet, pseudo-social science, and pop-culture. So, when I saw this post that combined all my loves, it was like Christmas came early (Christmas 2015, because it was posted on December 29, 2014). The post is a state-by-state compilation of Google searches, listing the searches for which each state dominated. For example, Google-users in my home state of New Jersey searched these terms more than Google-users in any other state:

In July, Tracy Morgan was riding in a limousine on the New Jersey Turnpike when the limo was hit by a Wal-Mart truck, so it kind of makes sense that people in New Jersey would be disproportionately interested in that story. New Jersey does political scandals better than anyplace outside Chicago, as was proved in 2014 with Bridgegate. In August of 2014, a staff member and some political appointees of Governor Chris Christie conspired to close toll lanes on the George Washington Bridge and cause a massive traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey as political retaliation against the Mayor of Fort Lee. It's somehow fitting that New Jersey, a state that most people know from driving through on the highway, dominates in Googling stories which involve highways.

Of all the celebrities and athletes that New Jerseyans are furiously Googling, only one makes immediate sense to me. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, everyone was Googling Team USA's goalkeeper Tim Howard. But, New Jerseyans were Googling him extra hard because he's originally from New Jersey. And, let's face it, when your other big local news stories are fatal car wrecks and political operatives creating traffic chaos, who would blame New Jerseyans for cyber-stalking Tim Howard?

If you think that these other celebrities: Ansel Elgort (from Fault in Our Stars, which I will never see because entertainment ≠ movie about teens dying of cancer), Alfonso Ribeiro (who needs to Google Alfonso? His work in The Tap Dance Kid, as Ricky's hip breakdancing friend on Silver Spoons, and Carlton in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air is unforgettable), Idina Menzel (by now even John Travolta knows she voiced Elsa in Frozen), Kim Novak (Hitchcock blonde - she was in Vertigo, and subject of much gossip after her appearance on the 2014 Oscars), and Oscar Pistorious (South African amputee sprinter and girlfriend-shooter) appear to have little in common, you'd be right. But, my best guess of why these celebrities were all super-Googled by New Jerseyans is because of the 86th Academy Awards (aka the 2014 Oscars).

Picture this: hordes of New Jersey-residing millennials are live-tweeting the 86th Academy Awards:

Neutral is the new black#Oscars2014
Truth: Kerry Washington is the most beautiful pregnant woman ever #Oscars2014
Why does the song "Happy" make me want to kill someone?#Oscars2014
Why is @MatthewMcConaughey presenting with his granny?#Oscars2014
Not his grandma. Some old star named Kim Novak #Oscars2014
Her face looks different. She used to be hot:

Zac Ephron is presenting at the Oscars. Whut? #Oscars2014
To be fair, his portrayal of a frat boy in "Neighbors" was the second best frat boy performance after the boys in the  "Shake It Off!" lip dub.
The Academy thinks that it's 2006 and ZE is the next hot thing because HS Muscial #Oscars2014
@AnselElgort would have been better. Let's get #AnselElgort2015Oscars trending!
@TylerPerry is presenting best picture nominees. You think he's mad that Big Mama's House 8 wasn't nominated?#2014Oscars
I didn't know @AlfonsoRibeiro directed #Gravity. Cool! Go Carlton! #Oscars2014
Oh wait, that's not him. They're showing an old white guy. Alfonso Cuaron? #Oscars2014
I'd watch the shit out of a space movie that Carlton directed. Just sayin #Getmeameeting
John Travolta is a vampire. Seriously. #Oscars2014
He may also be illiterate. #Oscars2014
Watch @IdinaMenzel turn John Travolta into a snowman and bring eternal winter to Hollywood. #Oscars2014
Do IT. #Oscars2014
Just asked Siri if this was the worst Oscars ever. She said no, Oscar Pistorious is the worst Oscar ever. Lolz #Oscars2014
Just remember Hollywood:


My favorite Google searchers might be Wisconsinites:

I picture these searches happening in tandem, because what really goes better with on-line dating than drinking cheap beer?

My favorite state whose Google searches match every stereotype of that state is Vermont:

If you were playing word association and your word was Vermont, wouldn't you respond with Pete Seeger, feminism, AND kale? SMH. I hope Vermont never stops being Vermont.

My two biggest questions are, one, why is Mississippi obsessed with everything Ciara and why are people from Oklahoma unfamiliar with switches? First, let's take Ciara. Unlike New Jersey's Google love for Tim Howard, Ciara is not even from Mississippi.  In fact, she is from Georgia. I wish that Georgians were Googling Ciara rather than Michael Sam's boyfriend. :-( Now, what kind of switches is all of Oklahoma Googling? Are these light switches? Are they Adrian Peterson switches? Maybe I'm being unfair, but I have a feeling that people in Oklahoma know from the cut-the-branch-off-the-tree type of switches. Maybe they're Googling so they know how big a switch they can use without getting in trouble. Mississippians and Oklahomans (is this a word?) weigh in, because I need to know!

I know that I, personally, searched a couple of the top Georgia Google terms:

I wanted to see how far away I lived from the epicenter of a terrifying disease. Luckily, I live about two hours from the Honey Boo Boo family. Whew!

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